Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Information about The Libertarian Reform Caucus

As most of the readers of this blog know I have joined that Libertarian Reform Caucus and I am an active member of it. I have included some more information about the LRC below. I haop you take the time to visit their website and I hope you join them as soon as possible!

Restoring liberty in the near future is feasible. Given the constraints of the U.S. political system, the logical course of action follows:

Observation 1: The Democratic and Republican parties are loath to nominate libertarians.

Corollary 1: The cause of liberty requires a libertarian party to get libertarians on the ballot.

Observation 2: The United States elects its legislators using district-based elections.

Corollary 2: Winning office requires actually winning elections. Garnering 5-10% of the vote at-large wins nothing.

Conclusion: Fringe politics does not work in the United States. A political party must appeal to a plurality of voters (effectively, at least 40%) in some districts in order to win elections. Since districts vary, such a party could get away with appealing to less nationwide, but it must at least appeal to 20-30%.

In other words, for the Libertarian Party to be effective, it must appeal to the top 20-30% of freedom-lovers. Appealing to the tiny minority of freedom-lovers who want no government at all, or something very close to that, is a recipe for failure.

The platform and message of the Libertarian Party is extreme, sacrificing practicality and political appeal in favor of philosophical consistency with a single axiom. As such, the party currently appeals only to a tiny fraction of the voting public.

The Libertarian Reform Caucus is working to reform the Libertarian Party, to turn it into an effective tool for increasing liberty.

As a first step, we are working on an improved Libertarian platform, one that LP candidates can proudly quote and still win elections. To broaden the appeal of the platform, we are improving it along three lines:
The platform should propose a realistic vision for the next few years, as opposed to an idealistic vision of a libertarian future. The public expects a party platform to show what a party's candidates intend to do during the next term of office. If the party wants a long term vision statement, it should be in a separate document labeled as such.
The platform should unite libertarians instead of dividing them. Where libertarians disagree, the platform should be silent. The party should be a tool for all libertarians.
The platform should be based on the realization that there are other important values in addition to the non-initiation of force. Freedom is extremely valuable, but it is not the only value.
The result of these platform reforms will be imperfect in the eyes of many libertarians. However, we feel it is better to take partial steps now towards a more libertarian society than to stand on the sidelines while the statists take us further down the road towards tyranny and bankruptcy. Also, we can always refine the platform in the future, after the people have experienced the benefits of increased liberty. A political platform is not a constitution.
With a quality platform and message the Libertarian Party will begin to be a far more useful tool for restoring liberty. Nevertheless, other improvements are possible. On this site we are also debating various aspects of party organization and strategy, such as:
Should we change or eliminate the membership oath? Can a real political party be a small exclusive club?
Should we change the bylaws? Our current bylaws give past members more power than current members in setting the platform. New planks or changes to old planks require a 2/3 vote. Keeping old planks requires a mere majority vote.
Is standard parliamentary procedure optimal for crafting a platform? Should debate be won by those who win the game of "whack-a-mole" by getting their hands up first in calling for an amendment? How about more advanced voting systems?
Are our strategies optimal? Should we put so much emphasis on presidential races or not? Should we try to make a difference in three-way races or focus on where we can win? Should we avoid running candidates and support the better of the legacy party candidates when one shows libertarian tendencies?
If you like
what we are doing, please join us. Your membership will entitle you to vote on which proposals and essays that you like and do not like. You do not have to be a Libertarian Party member to join the caucus; you only need to agree with our Statement of Purpose.
Please keep in mind that this site is a work in progress. The various platform proposals and essays are the opinions of the respective authors. We hope to receive many more platform proposals and essays from a wide variety of people as we grow. The opinions of the Caucus itself will be reflected in the votes on the various proposals/essays by the Caucus as members vote on platform proposals and rate the essays.

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Andrew Kaduk said...

I'm not entirely sure what to make of this "Reform Caucus" thing. On one hand, the strategy seems sound: Lead Libertarianism closer to the beaten path so that voters can vote for change without drastically deviating from their old habits...whereby keeping them in their comfort zones.
On the other hand, however, it appears as if the Libertarian party is gaining members by windfall from the "Big Two" parties as they continually piss of their respective voting bases. This certainly creates an interesting appearance: That the mutinous disenfranchised Republicans and Democrats are trying to mold the Libertarian party to suit their own tastes since

a) They are the next best hope for a viable party.

b) The party needs members, money and support, so they are less picky about their members than even the Democrats...(ok, that may be a stretch...I've never heard of Libertarians trading crack cocaine for votes).

c) The party is new enough and their platform less well-known than others, so if it is contorted and maniupulated at this stage of the game, it only irritates the hardcore party liners or the "purists," hardly anyone else will care.

Like I said, I'm a little torn on this...

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